by Paul Chika Emekwulu
Like so many people, I grew up at a time when primary and secondary schools such as College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugwu, Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha were managed by the mission.
Those days, it was always in the evenings, a common scene in my local community at the time was seeing two or three boys in the street (in few traffic) with condemned bicycle wheels turned into running machines paddled with a stick in their right hands. At times it was bundle of firewood balanced on top of their heads and steadied with their left hands or water in a pot heading to a class teacher’s house, the distance and the risks involved notwithstanding.
It was at this time that we were taught the concept of spirit as having no physical form, cannot be seen, cannot be touched and cannot be heard.
Despite being familiar with this definition we still thought that spirit could be described with any of the attributes of colour, size, and height. As little children we didn’t know about the controversy surrounding our thinking but we knew two things:
(1) Spirits are found only at nights.
(2) Any discussion of spirit was always surrounded by fear.
How can spirits be found only at nights when by definition, it cannot be seen, it cannot be touched and it cannot be heard?
We quickly regurgitated the definition by memory but never actually knew what it meant. What was happening at the playing ground was more important to us than anything else, while the actual meaning was left to our parents and other adults. As I grew older the definition of spirit continued to expand and have more meanings. This definition also belongs to people’s good and bad moods etc. On one hand, metaphorically, when one acts out any negative behavior one can be described as being evil or being controlled by an evil spirit though not necessarily the actual evil spirit but in terms of mood, attitude, behavior or emotion. Similarly, the opposite is true in terms of mood, attitude, behavior or emotion. if one acts accordingly, , metaphorically, he or she is said to be an angel. Actual angels are not human beings as some people erroneously think. Actual angels are spirits. This is where I disagree with the Biblical and our present Sadducees who don’t believe in spirits. I don’t hate the Sadducees. Don’t get me wrong. What I hate is their unbelief in spirits. How can one not believe in something that is so real?
Direct spiritual experience would have helped the Sadducees change their minds.
Now, I want to put my feet in the shoes of just one Sadducee, the only one who came to believe in spirits through direct spiritual experience. I can hear him or her preaching to fellow Sadducees saying, “The way I was then is the way you are now. I therefore don’t blame you my fellow Sadducees for not believing in these things including spirits.”
Do we all really have to undergo through the same direct spiritual experience? Of course not! The rest of us have to by faith, believe those who did.
If you are experiencing these things and don’t speak and write about these things, it is not fair to the individual and it is not fair to the children of God as well.
This is why it is pertinent to let us know here that when an individual is being tormented by an evil spirit that speaks in the individual or through the individual, he or she needs deliverance provided by an exorcist. One thing people fail to understand is while every pastor can talk about the torments of an evil spirit not every pastor can be used as an expensive utensil in delivering the tormented, only the rightly anointed. At the music play station you’ve a choice. It is not so with certain spiritual experiences, otherwise, the difference between knowing and not knowing could be reduced to the barest minimum.
Well, I said all that to talk about a concept I never realized is so important in the history of the Church, something myself and maybe so many of us at the time were ignorant of. It is something that is the foundation of the Church, something that is the pride and will continue to be the pride of the Church. I am referring to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. That time also, as little children our idea of spirit was
confined to the definition as taught to us in the catechism class of the day as already mentioned. Despite being familiar with this definition, we still thought that spirit could be described with any of the attributes of colour, size and height. Many decades later my idea of spirit absolutely changed because of events in my life. Here is one of them:
On Easter Sunday morning of March 27, 2016 at the Church, I had an unusual direct spiritual experience which I am about to share with you (Proverbs 22:17). Prior to this experience I had been touched by the Holy Spirit on May 17, 2015 and gifted with certain gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now, let me make two things clear.
First, I didn’t choose this experience but I was looking forward to it and didn’t know it’s nature. You are only imagining it when you haven’t experienced it. Also, remember that in John 15:16 Jesus says, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” Second, I can’t remember the last time I had a stomach upset for it has been a long time. What happened to me wasn’t a stomach upset and I knew it. Stomach upsets don’t exhibit patterns let alone being beautiful when they set in. What happened to me was different from a stomach upset. Rather, what I experienced was a muscle movement.
A song has to exhibit a beautiful pattern to be labeled “beautiful”. .
We have to bear in mind that even though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, at times there are exceptions. The muscle movement fits the pattern of the song stanza by stanza. Stomach upsets have no reference, they can’t therefore be compared to another event happening somewhere else. The muscle movement and the song came on simultaneously. They started at the same time and ended at the same time.
Now let’s get into the rest of the story.
On the day in question, my wife and I were at the 11 o’clock Mass at St. Thomas More University Parish in Norman, a city about 25 miles away from Oklahoma City. That day, an Easter song titled, Jesus Tempted in the Desert written by Herman G. Stuempfle Jr., (1923-2007) a one time American Lutheran Minister was being song by the choir and I said to my wife, “My stomach muscles are synchronizing with the tune of the music.” She looked in my direction, said nothing but exhibited some excitement. It should be recalled that few days after Angel Gabriel visited Mary telling her she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, she visited her relative, Elizabeth. In Luke 1:41, the word of God says that, “at the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, for some of us who are still wondering how this could be possible, Mary’s greetings could be likened to the Easter song while the Leaping Child could be likened to the muscle movement with a pattern.
Looking at it from the perspective of pattern recognition, the following are evident: On one hand, the Easter song and the muscle movement happened at the same time while on the other hand, Mary’s greetings and the Leaping Child occured at the same time as well. It is so interesting to notice such similarities in the two events. The song Tempted in the Desert is an adaptation from the gospel accounts found in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-11. The first three stanzas of the song indicate the three locations where Jesus was tempted. Stanza 1: Jesus tempted in the Desert”, Stanza 2: “Jesus tempted at the Temple”, Stanza 3: “Jesus tempted on the mountain”.
After this experience I thought it would be a recurring experience and because of that I was eagerly and jubilantly looking forward to the next Easter celebration. I was wrong. I was wrong because it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen because of another direct spiritual experience I was going through at the time and still going through at the time of writing this article. If one is experiencing these things and don’t talk about these things, it is not fair to him or her and it is not fair to the Church. In Proverbs 27:17, the word of God says, “Iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Again also, “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48).